I used my recently developed soft skills toolkit as the basis of my talk. The toolkit uses postcards written to procurement from their soft skills.
At the start of the session I asked people to share the challenges they have with soft skills. As a result, I promised to pull an index together of posts I've written to answer the challenges, and to provide further information on subjects touched on in my talk.
This is that very index, for you to dip in and out of as needed over the coming days, weeks and months. You just need to follow the highlighted hypertext link and it will take you to the relevant post.
They won't be going anywhere so no need to read them all in one go :-). Just get a coffee, or wine for that matter, and pop along when you're in need of a different perspective, and pick a post or two to read.
Content of the Talk:
- What's in a word - Chocolate. A great reminder that when we say "procurement" and smile, our stakeholders might not be smiling so broadly!
- Is soft skills the right terminology to use for them?
- Do your soft skills need some time in the greenhouse - link takes you to a vlog on the subject.
- There's 3 versions of a story - yours, theirs and the truth - video blog on perception
- How can you influence others - vlog with insight from those flowers that follow the sun.
- Change Management - because everything Procurement does requires that we manage change effectively. I'm certainly puzzled why we ignore it so much?
- The top 10 things to remember when communicating - this post touches on many of the points I mentioned.
- Stand in their shoes - my favourite tool for getting a different perspective on how to deal with someone (and I'm very sorry doing it in your head is not the same).
- Thinking about our state of mind, and theirs, before a negotiation/meeting.
- "How do I avoid being seen as a bad cop all the time?"
- "It's like talking to a brick wall - why are our stakeholders ignoring us?"
- "How do we use these skills to change the perception of procurement?" - see link above for some additions to your strategy. Other solutions might include: aligning procurement and organisational values, releasing the need to get a seat at the table, and/or understanding the impact your own preferences are having on the situation. You may even want to reflect on some belief changes too including: taking responsibility for the communication not landing, and what about letting go of Procurement's arrogance (as discussed in a procurement team's development session).
- "How do I influence others - ie what do I need to consider"
- "How do I deal with tricky stakeholders?"
- "Why do I have to change?"
- "People think soft skills are just too soft and fluffy" - here's my rant on the subject
- "How do I build rapport?"
- "Is there room for kindness in Procurement?"
- "Our Stakeholders hate us!"
- "How do I get more Confidence - when speaking and personally?"
I'll have to come back to and write posts to address the following challenges:
- "When do we use our soft skills?" I'll do a soft skills diary at some point, and for now will just say - I think soft skills are responsible for 'how' we do everything every minute of every day.
- "How do we develop our soft skills?" The same as any other skill - it's simply a case of taking it out of unconscious awareness into conscious awareness. You'll find more here. It's why I've developed the Soft Skill Toolkit, and you'll find more about how to use that here.
- "How do we measure the impact of soft skills?" I suspect it's in people achieving their objectives better.
- "How do I get my team to take soft skills seriously?" Hmm what gets measure gets done - so the answer may lie in the measures of success used in the organisation.
- "How do I increase peoples level of self awareness?" Whilst it is very personal I do think the culture within an organisation can help - vulnerability and asking for help need to be accepted and encouraged in order for people to lower their defences long enough to hear the feedback. Which starts with the manager being a role model for this too. This post, asking if we have our head in the sand about our own level of self awareness, might also help.
Unconventional Tools that I use in Coaching and Training
- Gardening as a metaphor for purchasing and supplier management - with this pinterest board, and youtube playlist too. I'll be using the RHS Chelsea flower show as a metaphor for purchasing here and over on LI this week.
- Watch your language - over on another blog you'll find a number of posts addressing how to resolve situations when you're stuck in a rut, can't see the wood for the trees, or feel like you're going around in circles.
- You may also like this index of posts using these and other unconventional tools to address common procurement challenges as provided to me in a LinkedIn discussion.
- This index of top 10 Purchasing coach posts might explain more about what I get passionate about - the main ingredient not mentioned already is about taking our humanity with us to work every day, and inviting procurement to be Enlightened and not to fall back on being Mr Wolf (descriptions used by some suppliers I trained last year)!
- Organisational soft skills training
- Team facilitation - unlocking the potential of procurement teams
- Open workshops - I'm going to be offering some 1 day soft skills workshops here in Fife over the summer - do drop me a line if you'd like me to send you details once they're sorted. I can promise they won't involve sitting in a hotel conference room all day.
- I also deliver procurement and supplier management workshops - direct and as an associate. Here's an index of posts linked to the content and discussions during a 3 day category management workshop, and updated after each session.
Hopefully you'll have found at least one post that adds to your insight on soft skills, and has inspired you to do something different. Which reminds me of something I forgot to say, and that's that the quickest way to learn new things is to get your 'doing new things' muscle working by doing something different everyday - here's how I fared when I did it for 28 days last year.
Do keep in touch - here in comments, over on LinkedIn, or email.
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking individual and procurement potential using unconventional tools
(with some conventional tools thrown in for good measure)